20 February 2013

Kenya: Tea Companies Go Green Through Carbon Finance

In Kenya's Nyeri district, several hundred miles north of the capital of Nairobi, energy-intensive tea production employs thousands of farmers and tea-factory workers - and now the industry is beginning to go green.

Four factories managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are going green through the 'Gura project', which facilitates the use of clean electricity. Named after the nearby Gura river, the project aims to significantly reduce the factories' carbon footprint while increasing productivity and incomes.

Much of the tea-manufacturing process requires electricity - withering, cutting, and drying tea leaves consume the most. Tea production currently produces high emissions and depends, inefficiently, on the national grid.

"Currently, the factories experience frequent power outages and poor power quality. This project will ensure a smoother production process as the power will be more stable," said Lucas Maina, General Manager of KTDA.

The crux of the Gura project is the construction of a hydro-power plant, which will use the water of the Gura river to generate power - freeing tea factories from the national grid and reducing emissions by some 38,400 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Factories will then receive additional returns on their investment in lower emissions through carbon credits, provided by the Clean Development Mechanism, which is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UNDP provided assistance in helping KTDA register the Gura project with the UNFCCC.

"The Gura project is only one example of our work to help developing countries access the carbon market, which encourages them to invest in green development," said Christopher Gakahu, team leader of Energy, Environment and Climate Change of UNDP in Kenya.

Not only does the Gura project reduces factories' carbon footprint and improves efficiency, it also helps reduce poverty and empowers the local population in Nyeri - creating jobs and increasing energy access for disadvantaged populations in remote regions.

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